Thursday, July 12, 2012

Riff Raff

Riff Raff
oil and charcoal on canvas
24 x 24 inches
© 2012 Morgan Johnson Norwood

This painting always gets interesting comments when I share it with people.  One couple at the Reston Market saw rabbits leaping in a field; another saw ghosts and faces.

A few months ago I was asked to present my work to the students at my former school, John Adams Elementary School in Alexandria, and I was so excited.  So I showed up to present last month with a mini-show and all my gear, and some fabulous students helped me set up.  It was during this time that I received The Best Comment Ever about Riff Raff.  It came from Leila, a rising fifth grader.  She said, 
"I like this painting.  It looks like Spring, mixed with danger."
You really can't beat that.

For Riff Raff, I laid layers of paint over scrubbed canvas that into which I had drawn, pushing and pulling texture and details forward and back, and enjoyed the playful splashes of color in a more quiet field of gray tones.  To me, this painting seemed to have some childlike mischief.  And as Leila said, some danger. I couldn't agree more. 

So I was excited to include the piece in my presentation to the real riff raff.

For six years I enjoyed teaching art at John Adams before I made the decision to stay home with my young children.  While at John Adams, a Changing Education Through the Arts (CETA, sponsored by The Kennedy Center) school, I was most proud of the annual arts festival, which my team and I spent countless hours organizing.  The 2-day festival included a student-written and performed opera and a circus, a whole-school framed art exhibit and frame sale, and a scholarship program to help send every kid’s art home in a professional frame.  In addition to the show and performances, we invited various artists and performers in the DC-area community to teach and share their art with the students.   

But THIS year I was so happy to participate as a presenter**, allowing the students to peek into the head of someone who makes art in real life outside the classroom. 

I had a ball presenting to the kids at John Adams for their annual Festival of the Arts!
My talk was basically a Career Day for artists.  I talked about my inspiration from my regular nature walks with my kids and my love of contemporary art, and shared several pieces of my past and present work before I demonstrated a bit and answered questions.
Demonstrating a bit of my process while I introduced oil painting.

And of course, being a former art teacher, I had to give them all homework for the summer: draw something every day. It doesn't have to be an in-depth detailed drawing each time, but it should give you a chance to see your world a little differently, a little more closely. 

Want to participate in my little assignment?  Try it for a week.  A month.  The whole summer!  And don't forget to show me your drawings!  I'd love to see what you came up with.

And speaking of which, you too can participate in The Sketchbook Project 2013.  Have you signed up yet?

** DC-area artists and performers who are interested in presenting to the students at John Adams should contact me, and I can get you in contact with the right people. 

No comments:

Post a Comment